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Bush Climate Summit: Greenwashing vs. Myth-Busting

Once again, the foreign media coverage is not fooled by Bush’s PR stunt, while the U.S. media buys the White House line. UK’s The Independent labeled this a “Greenwashing Climate Summit” in its headline, and opened their story with:

For the first time in 16 years, a major environmental conference opens in Washington, hosted by the Bush administration. But no concrete results are expected, and that — say European participants — is the point of this high-level meeting.

Far from representing a Damascene conversion on climate change by President George Bush, the two-day gathering of the world’s biggest polluting nations is aimed at undermining the UN’s efforts to tackle global warming, say European sources. “The conference was called at very short notice,” said one participant. “It’s a cynical exercise in destabilising the UN process.”

So how does the AP puff piece on the summit begin?

Myth: The president refuses to admit that climate change is real and that humans are a factor. Myth: The U.S. is doing nothing to address climate change. Myth: The United States refuses to engage internationally.

So begins a hand-sized handout, easy for reporters to pocket, issued at the State Department where President Bush on Friday was to cap two days of talks at a White House-sponsored climate change conference that is as much about salesmanship as it is about diplomacy.

Uhh, no. It is not about diplomacy at all. It is entirely about salesmanship and worse. Greenwashing is the better word. Undermining diplomacy would be the right phrase.

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And how can AP begin the story with the White House’s talking points? Is that journalism — to just reprint the White House press release?

When you compare the AP story with the British story, you realize the wide chasm between serious foreign journalism and amateurish U.S. coverage. Sad.